Friday, June 7, 2013

SWIMMING TO VANCOUVER II Escape from Neurosity!

                                              Bailey Gilbert. Beyond professional help?

Monday, June 3rd. Vancouver, Washington.

Day eleven of house sitting with Bailey and Murphy. Nerves are raw and fully exposed. Patience has run dry. Morale is low. Bailey's constant whining has driven Murphy and I to devise escape plans. For Murphy, that means an innocent request to be let outside to relieve himself, knowing full well that Bailey is too short to see over the windowpane. If he were three inches taller, Bailey could witness Murphy's furious digging at the bottom of the wooden backyard fence. You don't get to be Murphy's age without becoming crafty. I wish him luck, but have to save my own ass first. In eleven days, this has become a Lord-of-the-Flies dog-eat-dog situation.

                Murphy Gilbert's silent plea for help. He never got it. Every man for himself!

Early the next morning, I pulled the old "Hey, is that a duck riding a unicycle?" gag, while pointing out of the living room window, enabling me to slip out long enough for a photo shoot at Gary Mathis' Ascari bicycle shop. Gary is an old southern Oregon hot rod pal, now relocated to the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland. He shares the high end bicycle shop with some "extreme" woodworkers, who blew my mind with their out-of-the-box approach and over-the-top skills.

The Ascari Bicycle Works. Mr. Ascari (Gary's partner) was on the road. The shop is tiny. The end product is big time.

Yes, those wheel rims are wooden - made right next door.

Gary Mathis, in his element. You can't tell from these shots (on purpose), but the shop is fully stocked with vintage speed parts. That's why I was there. But the bike frames are chrome moly and titanium, which made me feel at home.

Wednesday, June 5th.

With Bailey's obsessive omnipresence, escape seemed impossible - until Mark Brislawn ("Briz") called, with a reminder of the evening car gathering at nearby Portland International Raceway ("PIR" in local speak). Yes! I could almost taste the sweet fresh air...

I rendezvoused with Briz at his palatial estate. He had chosen his latest acquisition - an amature restoration of a '56 Lincoln coupe - as our evening transportation. Excellent choice, sir.

A quick check of the garage to ensure we had everything needed for an evening out. Stocked cooler: Check! Let's roll...

The Lincoln performed admirably. It has a few bugs, but they're merely "screwdriver jobs". It ran great, handled surprisingly well (tight and firm, but not harsh), and rode like a well broken-in leather sofa. We aimed the rolling living room down I-5, due south.

One of those screwdriver jobs is to institute a wheelcover security program. This one took the exit with us, then kept going on its own. Several rods stopped to ask if we were okay. Nice.

When in Vancouver (often, in recent years), hotrodding hosts usually bring me to the Beaches restaurant at feeding time. My understanding is that the owner also manages PIR. So it made sense when I heard that the weekly "Beaches Cruise" (begun in 1996 and shuffled among several venues) had landed at PIR (in 2004) and was thriving. They charge an admission, as a fund raiser for local charities. To date, the Beaches Charity Fund has donated over 1.25 million dollars to the community. Each week, the cruise spotlights a local club, and this week (the season opener) the Slo Poks were the featured club. We arrived early (feature clubs park under the trees - the only shade for miles), in Lincoln Continental fashion. I raided the cooler and hit the ground running.

Marty Strode and friend, arriving in one of the many street/dirt track cars that Marty has built.

                           I'm not much on static display, but found a few cars that amused me.

I spent most of the evening at the dragstrip, but didn't get any good shots. Just happy to inhale race gas and Goodyear smoke for a while. Nick Nicholson's Opel GT runs a 440 Mopar. Yes, he's a Slo Pok. The '55 Ford is a bully, and the Old Gold '39 Chevy is the Son of Godzilla's arch enemy.

Ran into old pal CC - caretaker of the Son of Godzilla Morris Minor (he didn't bring it). L-R: Chris, Celina and Sia Clark. Always a warm fuzzy to hang with these guys!

Briz won an award for Best Hubcap or something. They stopped the band to interview him and everything. Long Distance award went to the Nevada Rides club, who brought over 50 cars from Reno. They joined well over 1,500 local cars on this opening night.

After 1,499 cars exited, it was our turn. Then, deja vu at the on-ramp, as our outlaw wheelcover escaped again! Briz captured it, as more rodders pulled over to check on us. Slightly redfaced, we continued home on three hubcaps.

And so ended the perfect kickoff to the Portland area's official hot rod season. Despite a couple of hubcap fumbles, we started the season 1-0. Not too shabby.

I had some explaining to do to Bailey when I got home. After a thorough scanning (I had betrayed them both by hanging with other dogs at PIR), he and Murphy scanned each other for any missed data.

Next time: The shocking conclusion of the Swimming to Vancouver series! You don't want to miss this one!!! Meanwhile, be sure to visit our corporate office and qualify for valuable prizes:

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